Carsten Anker’s Lysthuset: An Asian-inspired gazebo

On top of a hill. In contact with nature. Once again part of the silhouette of the ridge. Lysthuset is a typical Norwegian construction, characterized by foreign inspiration. It was torn apart in 1922 after just 20 years of existence and likely sold as building materials to benefit other buildings.

 

 

 

Seen from the east side of Lake Mjøsa, the gazebo appears as part of the ridge silhouette. Illustration: Jonas Kalin

Portrait of Carsten Anker. By: Jens Juel

In 1802, a timber gazebo owned by official and ironworks owner Carsten Anker (1747-1824), was built on Kristenkollen in the small village of Feiring. The gazebo was Anker’s residence when he was in the ironworks. Here, he received guests and business associates connected with the ironworks[1]. The gazebo was an untraditional building and an unusual sight in the small village in Eidsvoll Kommune. This text addresses the building’s Asian expression, why it was built as a Gazebo, and why it was reconstructed.

 

Map of the ironworks with the gazebo marked in red. Illustration: Jonas Kalin

Feiring Ironworks

As early as the 17th and 18th centuries, mining began in Feiring due to the bedrock, which was rich with iron ore. As a result, the small community was formed.[2] In 1798, businessman Carsten Anker took over the mining operations, with big visions for an efficient production plant with a short distance to the iron mines. Prior to Anker’s takeover, iron ore was transported to Eidsvoll for further processing and to produce pig iron. Feiring ironworks was one of Anker’s most significant investments, with around 170 people associated to the plant. When he took over mining operations, Anker focused on modernization and it became increasingly efficient to transport iron ore out of the mines. The production plant was completed in 1806 and the future looked bright for the small town of Feiring. But this would not to last long, as Carsten Anker went bankrupt in 1922 and the buildings connected to the ironworks were taken down and sold at auction.[3] Only one house has returned as a reconstruction: Carsten Anker’s gazebo.

Romantic Anker

Anker chose to build his house at 475 meters above sea leavel at Kristenkollen, due to the view over Norway’s largest lake, Mjøsa. Anker built the gazebo with large windows, unusual for the time, in order to have contact with nature. The timber construction was constructed with traditional craftsmanship and the building had a clear Norwegian anchorage in its galleries.

Photo of the view from the east-facing balcony. Photo: Jonas Kalin

Photo of the view from the east-facing balcony. Photo: Jonas Kalin

 

The Architect

The original drawings of the gazebo were completed by Anker’s friend, and Danish architect, Carl Frederik Ferdinand Stanley (1769-1805)[4]. Stanley lived in Norway for only a few years, during which period he designed the renovation of the main building at Eidsvoll (Eidsvollsbygningen), owned by Carsten Anker. A number of years later, this building was the scene of the constitutional negotiations. Despite his important architectural works in Norway, Stanley is not very well known. We do know that Stanley often drew buildings inspired by classical architecture, leaving us to speculate that Anker had a clear idea for how his building should look.[5]

Copy of the original drawing of the gazebo. By Architect Carl Frederik Ferdinand Stanley. Photo: Jonas Kalin

Why a gazebo?

In 16th century Denmark, the first Danish gazebos appeared. Kings from the Renaissance and the Romantics were trained to wage war to defend themselves and their people. Protected by the castle and the castle’s buildings, with moats and trenches, nature was kept at a distance. Excursions outside the walls required shelter, resulting in the use of gazebos. Royal gazebos gradually gained a more definite character and developed to accommodate both eating and sleeping. Anker had close contact with the Danish royal family, and was himself knighted, leading us to believe that his vision for a gazebo was inspired by the Danish royal family.[6]

Photographs of gazebos associated with stately plots. Photographers from left to right: Kim Bach; Rolf Øhman; Hemmingsen; Kroneborg.dk; Holger Ellgaard; Nils Bjåland

Anker’s professional career took place mostly in Copenhagen, where he lived for 37 years. Anker married the daughter of the Danish chief of staff, allowing him close contact with the Danish royal family during his stays in Denmark. He also developed a close relationship with the young Prince Christian Fredrik. Anker came to intervene in Norway’s history and Norwegian politics through his contact with the Danish Crown Prince. Carsten Anker became an influential supporter of the Prince, who was supposedly like a son to Carsten Anker.[7][8] Anker eventually used his position and friendship with Prince Christian Frederik politically—writing in a letter to the Prince, “To Norway, to Norway! O! Prince! To Norway! You and you alone can preserve this crown’s real gemstone from loot and plunder.” Anker was strategic about the visit and the crown Prince visited Feiring ironworks, and the gazebo, on June 8, 1813. The Prince got to know Eidsvoll Verk on this trip and the gazebo visit can be seen as part of the recording of the constitutional negotiations, in spring 1814.[10]

Why Asian inspiration?

Carsten Anker was the Danish-Asian Company leader.[11] He developed a good relationship with the east and was inspired by their culture, which is something that came to mind in his gazebo. The symmetrical building body, the hipped roof, and the characteristic lip under the cornice are all common features of Asian architecture and can often be found in Buddhist temples, in particular.

The reconstruction

After a close collaboration with the Parliament’s constitutional committee, Feiring Jernverks venner received financial support to reconstruct Carsten Anker’s Gazebo from 1802. On the constitutional anniversary, the gazebo was reconstructed according to the original drawings. The original drawings have been stored in the National Archive and laid a solid foundation for architect Skjeseth and Solvang Arkitekter AS’s reconstruction project.

Model of the gazebo´s reconstruction. Illustration: Jonas Kalin

The gazebo has two floors, a hipped roof, and galleries. The asian style hipped roof means that the roof surface is broken up by a vertical wall section that runs around the entire building, letting light in.[12] This style of roof dates back thousands of years. The gazebo is symmetrical and each façade is almost identical, another reference to certain styles of Asian architecture. The house is open and provides good contact with nature, letting natural light in through the roof and windows. The new gazebo is built with traditional Norwegian methods—using untreated wood, moss between the logs, and forged nails. The gazebo stands on the stones of the original foundation. The remaining foundation was measured and corresponded precisely with the original sketches. Unfortunately, the building was not finished when the budget limit was reached, and therefore, the current building does not fully match the original drawings. The lower hallway lacks a proper railing and the bow skirt, as seen in the original drawings. Additionally, the columns placed on the balconies are still missing.

The building functioned as a temporary residence for Carsten Anker until Eidsvollsbygningen was completed and ready for occupancy in 1811. Today, the building serves as a tourist destination.

Ground floor: Drawing based on the original plan. Illustration: Jonas Kalin

First floor: Drawing based on the original plan. Illustration: Jonas Kalin

Carsten Anker lived a rich life, filled with travel to various countries which allowed him to encounter different cultures. As a leader of the Danish-Asian company, he was often inspired by Asian culture. In Eidsvollsbygningen, tableware likely obtained via the Danish Asian Company was found. His leadership in the company likely led to the expression of the gazebo and his interest in collecting artefacts from the East.

Such reconstructions are important for the local community. Small villages, such as Feiring, must preserve the critical history to maintain their identity. As a relatively remote place, the gazebo, and the history of Carsten Anker, is an important driver of local tourism.

References

Stortinget (u.å). Grunnlovsjubileet. Stortinget. Found 8.november 2020 from: https://www.stortinget.no/Global/pdf/Grunnlovsjubileet/Lysthuset_i_Feiring_lavopploselig.pdf

1 Jernverket (u.å). Jernverkshelga. Jernverket. Found 7. April 2019 from: http://www.jernverket.info/jernverkshelga/

2 Knut Røsrud og Helle Therese Kongsrud. (2014, 4. July). Feiring jernverk. Nrk. Found 6. November 2020 from: https://www.nrk.no/ho/feiring-jernverk-1.11719964

3 Marit Brotdshaug Sveen (Personal communication, 21. April 2019) Lecture Notes And opening speech for the opening of the reconstruction (2013, 8. June)

4 Arkitekturkalenderen (2000,November). Carsten Ankers lysthus på feiring verk. Arkitekturkalenderen. Paper edition from Norsk Arkitekturmuseum.

5 Nasjonalmuseet (2014, 10 February). Found 13. November 2020 from: https://www.mynewsdesk.com/no/nasjonalmuseet/pressreleases/nasjonalmuseet-aapner-den-tredje-utstillingen-under-vignetten-syck-mergekey-0x00000014fa57f8-norge-1814-christiania-fra-provinsby-til-hovedstad-957834

6 Sveen, Marit Brotdshaug. 2013.

7 Knut Mykland. (2014, 28.september). Carsten Anker. Store Norske Leksikon. Found 6.november 2020 from: https://nbl.snl.no/Carsten_Anker

8 Sveen, Marit Brotdshaug. 2019. Personal communication.

9 Mykland, 2014.

10 Jernverket, (u.å).

11 Mykland, 2014.

12 Olle Christer Stenby. (2018, 22. June). Takformer. Bygg og bevar. Found 8.November 2020 from: https://www.byggogbevar.no/pusse-opp/tak/artikler/hva-kalles-takformen

13 Sveen, 2019.


Images

Jens Juel. Portrett av Carsten Anker(Painting). Found on: https://snl.no/Carsten_Tank_Anker

Kim Bach. Herkulespaviljongen(picture). Found on:https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herkulespaviljongen

Rolf Øhman. Lysthuset som sto på Bogstad gård(picture). Found on: https://www.aftenposten.no/osloby/i/wjGo/rekonstruerte-lysthus-fra-1800-tallet

Hemmingsen. Eremitageslottet sett forfra(picture). Found on: https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eremitageslottet

Kroneborg.dk. Pirkentavl er Danmarks ældste havehus(picture). Found on: https://www.kroneborg.dk/279/rosenholm

Holger Ellgaard. Djurgårdsbrunn på Gärdet, Stockholm(picture). Found on: https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fil:Djurgårdsbrunn_2007.jpg

Nils Bjåland. Ved Herregården(picture). Found on: https://www.aftenposten.no/norge/i/rLj2R/vi-er-i-lysthuset-fra-mars-til-november